About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

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ch. 27:1-12     ch. 27:13-26       ch. 27:27-44

Paul Sails For Rome   (ch. 27:1 - 12)

It was decided to send Paul to Rome by boat along with other prisoners. Yet you must remember, that Paul was not yet charged, still not yet a legal prisoner. Somehow, which we don’t know, Luke and another man named Aristarchus were able to accompany Paul.  Aristarchus has been mentioned before.  See Acts 19:29, Colossians 4:10, and Philemon 24.  This man was one of the men that accompanied Paul to Jerusalem with the collection for the poor saints.  He was from Thessalonica.

One thing that we should note here is that Roman law made Paul pay his own way to Rome to appeal to Caesar.  Paul could have been set free but because it was his choice to appeal to Rome , he had to pay his own way, and so did those who went with Paul.  Where Paul and the others got the money, we don't know. 

We note in verse 2 that Luke specifically includes himself with Aristarchus and Paul on the trip.  Thus we now enter another "we" section of the book of Acts.  "We", as in Luke was with Paul during these days. 

Another man is mentioned, and his name is Julius.  He is in charge of looking after Paul.  He was a soldier in the Imperial Regiment, which is just another name for the Roman army.  Only Roman citizens could be a part of this army.

In verse 3 we note that the first stop the ship made was in Sidon , about 67 miles north of where they began this trip.  While there Julius let Paul, along with Luke and Aristarchus leave the ship to visit their friends, most likely Christian brothers.  These friends tended to Paul’s needs.  What the needs were we don’t know.  I would not be surprised if some of the needs were money to help fund their trip to Rome . 

We do note from the beginning that Paul had a good measure of freedom, even though he was numbered with other prisoners.  This is most likely due to the fact that he had not yet been tried and convicted.    

The ship that they were on was called a coastal ship, a ship suited to follow the coast line.  This ship was not a large ship that would normally head out to the deep sea. 

From Sidon the ship set sail once again.  They passed to the east of the island of Cyprus that protected them from the strong westerly winds.  They cut off the north east corner of the Mediterranean Sea and landed at Myra , in the province of Lycia .  Here the guards put the prisoners on another ship, one that came from Alexandria Egypt .  This ship appeared to be an ocean going ship that would have carried grain from Egypt .  It had trouble with the strong westerly winds that blew across the sea.  This resulted in the ship sailing on the east and south side of the island of Crete in order to be protected somewhat from these strong winds.

In verse 9 Luke tells us that sailing was now getting dangerous.  Sailing between September and into November was somewhat dangerous because of the winds and the coming of winter.  Most ships did not even sail from November through to March. 

Luke mentions that “the Fast” had already passed.  The fast referred to here is the Day of Atonement.  Therefore it was already October, possibly in 59 or 60 AD.  The Law of Moses only stipulated or set aside one day to fast and this was the Day of Atonement. 

In verses 9 and 10 Luke records that Paul suggested that they stay in Fair Haven where they were presently docked, a city in the island of Crete .  He suggested this because of the strong winds and time of year.  Yet the captain of the ship and its owner didn’t feel that the harbour there was suitable for their ship and wanted to move on, so that is what they did.  Paul felt there would be great loss if they continued.  Paul was right.

The Storm (ch. 27:13 - 26)

In verse 13 Luke notes that a gentle south wind was blowing, the captain of the ship decided to set sail.  The ship followed the southern coast of Crete .

Once on route another wind from the north and east took over.  This wind was of hurricane proportion. It was so strong that they could not head west as they wanted. 

The captain lost control of the ship and could do nothing but let the wind blow them wherever it wanted.  They passed by a little island called Cauda.  

The wind was so strong that their life boat was in danger of being lost.  Some suggest that the life boat was probably being towed by the ship.  Luke helps the others secure the life boat.  Then the sailors rapped a strong rope around and under the ship to help keep it together.  This shows you how strong the wind was. It was in fact a hurricane.  They were afraid that the wind would actually rip the ship apart.

At this point the captain felt that they should lower their sea anchor.  He did not want the wind to drive them onto a sand doom thus breaking the ship apart.  He felt that maybe they could weather the storm better with the ship anchored  at sea.

They spent a night in this situation and the next day the storm was worse than ever.  They thus decided to throw the ship's  cargo overboard.  Tin verse 18 Luke says that the next day they threw the ships cargo overboard.

Luke continues by saying that they could not see the sun for days.  Literally, they were in the midst of this storm for many days and were ready to give up, fearing the worse.

By this time all on board had not been able to eat for quite a while.  Most likely depression, fear, and anger were taking over the hearts of those on board.  Yet Paul had been through many trials before.  In verse 21 He stood up and said, "Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourself this damage and loss.  But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed".  Paul reminded the ships captain and owner that he warned them of the impending danger but they did not listen to him.  But now that they were in the midst of the storm, Paul told them that their lives would not be lost.  The ship would be destroyed but they would be saved.  Of course Paul was not the captain of the ship, but being the strong individual as he was, he took charge. 

An interesting point here might be that when things get rough and men of the world fear for their lives, then those who are secure in the Lord have an opportunity to take charge of things.  This is important in hard economic times, or other bad times even in our day.  Of course, we must first be strong in the Lord ourselves to be of any help like Paul was here.  We should therefore grow in strength during the good times in order to do the work of the Lord in the bad times.      

 How did Paul know this?  He said, "last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, 'do not be afraid, Paul.  You must stand trial before Caesar, and God has graciously given you the lives of all that sail with you'". 

Note here how Paul describes himself.  He says “the God whose I am”.  This is what being a Christian is all about.  It does not merely mentally believe in the existence of a Jesus.  It is giving yourself to Jesus and His Father so you can say like Paul that you are a follower of "the God whose I am".  What Paul is saying here is that he has given himself to God. He belongs to God.  God owns him.  Because of this fact he serves God in the way in which God wants him to serve.  There is a big difference between one  saying that he is a believer and one actually being a servant of God who owns him.

There is another thing to note here.  If you were in doubt, and I have raised the question earlier, that Paul made a mistake in appealing to Caesar, then doubt no more.  The angel clearly says that God wants Paul to go to Rome and stand before Caesar defending himself, and at the same time proclaiming the gospel. 

It is clear that Jesus wanted the gospel preached to the supreme leader of the Roman Empire .  This is interesting.  Is this a political action taken on the part of our Lord?  Is this an example of Jesus and Paul getting politically involved?  What did Jesus want Paul to do?  He did not want Paul to get involved in the political process.  He simply wanted Paul to proclaim the gospel to Caesar.  I am not suggesting that it is wrong for a Christian to get involved in politics.  What I am suggesting is that there is a greater calling.  That greater calling is presenting the gospel to people, including government leaders.  It is one thing for a Christian to get involved in politics, yet it is quite a different thing for a Christian to proclaim the gospel to those in government. 

Back in the 1980’s Pat Robertson of the Christian Broadcasting Network ran for the leadership of the Republican Party in the United States, hoping to win the nomination and thus run for president.  I once asked a prominent Christian teacher what he thought of Pat Robertson’s attempt at politics.  He basically answered by saying that Pat should understand that if he was leaving his position of preaching the gospel to run for president, he was in fact demoting himself, because a preacher of the gospel was more important than a president, even of the United States. 

God did not ask Paul to be politically involved, but he certainly wanted Paul to present the gospel to the highest authority in the known world at that time.  Why the Lord chose Paul to proclaim the gospel as a prisoner, I can only guess, but the gospel would be preached, and even Caesar would have the choice to accept or reject what he heard. 

We should know that God deals with humanity in two ways.  He deals with us as individuals and also as nations.  Evangelicals have often downplayed the point that God deals with nations, or so I think.      

Another thing to note from verse 24 is that an angel spoke to Paul this time.  It wasn't Jesus who spoke to Paul as He had often done before.  There might be a specific reason why an angel spoke to Paul here and not Jesus.  If you closely read the book of Revelation you will notice that anytime a natural disaster takes place on earth, it is an angel who causes the disaster.  It's my thinking that angels are given responsibility over nature.  The term "mother nature" is not Biblical.  There is no mother in charge of nature.  Angels are in charge of nature.  So, Paul, and those with him are in the middle of a storm, a natural disaster.  It only makes Biblical sense then that an angel and not Jesus would speak to Paul on this occasion. An angel is responsible for this storm.    

In verse 25 Paul tried to encourage the men with him by saying that he "had faith in God that it will happen just as He told me".  If Jesus has clearly told us something, we can indeed trust Him that what He has told us will come about. 

Then Paul says, "Nevertheless we must run aground on some island".  Paul is saying that his God will deliver all of these men, but there will be some scary moments in the meantime.  Paul knew all too well about scary moments.  

It is very clear that God had a plan for Paul. He had a goal in mind.  Getting to this goal was far from easy.  When one becomes a Christian he should never expect a life free of hardships, especially if He has called you to do something special for Him.

Also note that the lives of the other men on this ship were saved because of the presence of Paul and his friends.  It is my opinion that even non-Christians around us, who have contact with us, can receive a measure of God’s blessing, merely because of us and God’s blessing on us. 


The Shipwreck  (ch. 27:27 - 44)

In verse 27and following we see that the next thing Luke records is the events that took place “on the fourteenth’ night of the storm.  This was quite a bad storm.  Luke said that “the sailors sensed that they were approaching land”, meaning that they could not see the land but felt that there was land ahead.

Fearing that they might smash their ship on a rocky shore line they threw overboard a device that would tell them how deep the water was.  The water was 120 feet deep.  Then a short time later they did the same thing and found now that the water was 90 feet deep, telling them that indeed they were approaching land.

They thus decided to anchor the ship with 4 anchors in the hopes that it would not crash the ship on shore.  At this point Luke tells us that they prayed for morning to come.

Not all were hoping for morning.  Some of the sailors, if not all of them, had a plan of escape.  They lowered the life boat into the water, pretending that they were going to put more anchors in the water.  Yet once they got in the life boat they were going to attempt to go to shore and leave the others in the ship.

Paul is a sharp individual.  He saw what was happening and in verse 31 he says to the centurion and soldiers guarding the prisoners, “unless these men (the sailors) stay with the ship, you cannot be saved”.  Simply put, Paul was saying that if these sailors desert us, then everyone else on board including the soldiers could not be saved because they had no knowledge of how to operate a ship, especially in such a storm.

Upon hearing what Paul said some soldiers cut the rope that was attached to the life boat and let it drift away on its own.  I am sure that the sailors weren’t very happy about this, but the soldiers probably had weapons with them that made the sailors comply.

When morning came, Paul understood that things were most likely going to come to an end.  He urged everyone to eat something, since they had not eaten in the last 14 stressful days.  Everyone would obviously need strength to survive the events that soon would be upon them.

So Paul took bread, gave thanks to Jesus for the bread and ate some.  You can clearly see Paul’s confidence in the Lord.  He appears to be relatively at ease, or at ease enough to be able to eat and actually thank God for the food.  You can also see Paul's leadership skills at work here.  He became the leader of all those on the ship.  Again, in times of distress God's people can rise to the top and be the leaders they should always be.  

In verse 35 Luke tells us that the rest were somewhat encouraged by what Paul said and they ate as well.  Luke states that there were 276 people on board that ship. There is some controversy over this number.  Some Greek manuscripts have the number 76 and not 276.  

After they had eaten what they wanted, they started throwing grain overboard to lighten the ship.  This confirms the fact that this was actually a grain ship.  Those on the northern shore of the Mediterranean Sea got their grain via ships from Egypt .  Paul was on one of these ships.

Daylight finally came.  They could now see land, but they did not recognize it.  They did see a sandy shore so it was decided to run the ship into the sand, which would most likely be better than running it into a bunch of rocks. 

They cut the ropes to the anchors and the rudders.  Then they hoisted a sail and let the wind drive them into the beach. The ship then struck a sandbar and got stuck.  The bow of the ship was secured tightly in the sand causing the stern of the ship to be battered and tossed by the wind of sea.  It could not stand the pressure and the stern began to brake up. 

In verse 42 Luke records that at this point the soldiers planned to kill the prisoners.  They were afraid that they would now escape to shore.  If you remember from before, we noted that soldiers were responsible for their prisoners.  If any of them got away, then the soldier would be executed. 

The captain of the guard did not want Paul killed so he commanded the soldiers not to kill any of the prisoners.  Paul’s very presence saved the lives of many men.  The captain of the soldiers then told those who could swim to jump overboard and swim to shore.  The rest, who couldn’t swim, were told to find a piece of the ship and float to shore.  In doing this, all reached shore; all were saved, just as the Lord told Paul would happen.   What God predicts will happen, will indeed happen.  You can count on that.

It looks pretty clear that the captain over the soldiers had great respect for Paul. 


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